Missed the Supermoon? Get Ready for the Super Blue Blood Moon

Earlier this month we rang in the new year with an especially big and bright Supermoon.

If you missed that celestial showing, you're in luck because a second and even more astounding astrological event is occurring on Jan. 31.

This month's second full moon is full of surprises. Not only is it a blue moon which, by definition, is a rare event in and of itself, but it'll also be a Supermoon as well as a total lunar eclipse aka a Blood Moon.

So basically, we'll view a Super Blue Blood Moon at the end of January. The last time each of these events aligned, the Civil War had just come to a close which was roughly 152 years ago. So, yeah, it's kind of a big deal.

Continue reading to discover just what each of these moon categories mean for your viewing party:

Blue Moon

You've doubtlessly heard the phrase, "Once in a blue moon" before to refer to something that happens every once in a while, or very rarely.

But where exactly does the idiom come from? We'll give you a hint: It isn't because the moon appears blue on these nights (although the blood moon does come paired with a red-orange tint). A blue moon, by it's common definition, is the second full moon in a single month.

If you're familiar with basic moon phases, you'll know that each month we have a full moon, new moon and the various-sized crescents in-between. When we have two full moons in one month, we refer to it as a blue moon (while, hypothetically speaking, werewolves may know it better as a nightmare).

You won't notice anything different about the moon's size or brightness on a typical blue moon night, but the other categories below will add to this month's second full moon madness.

 

Supermoon

The term "Supermoon" has only been used for the last 40 years, though these XL moons have always been seen in the night sky.

Basically, a Supermoon occurs when the month's full moon coincides with it's closest orbit to Earth. We all know that the orbit isn't a perfect circle, so when the orbit is closest to Earth and the moon is beaming in it's full glory, it appears brighter and bigger than usual.

Sometimes the size difference can be difficult to see by the naked eye, but if you'll recall back at the end of 2016, we had an enormous Supermoon that made headlines. We're hoping for this month's extra large moon to be just as spectacular… but for a slightly different reason, as explained below.

 

Blood Moon

While the Supermoon is known to appear bigger and brighter, the addition of the blood moon may actually dim the light.

This month we will also be experiencing a total lunar eclipse, which occurs when the earth, moon and sun are in direct alignment. Because the moon blocks the light of the sun, rather than a bright and shiny moon, we'll be viewing a dimly lit and slightly red moon, hence the blood.

While total lunar eclipses aren't necessarily as spectacular as total solar eclipses and happen much more frequently, they are still a sight to see. The blood moon will be most visible to us in the North American region of the world, but you may have to set your alarms at an unattractive hour to glimpse the full eclipse. For those of us on the west coast, we're looking at about a 3 a.m. alarm, while our east coast friends will start their days early with a 6 a.m. wakeup call. Get your cameras ready, because this event may not come around for another lifetime!

 

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